Friday, 15 August 2014

Gypsy and Traveller Plan Withdrawal

Central Bedfordshire Council have become frustrated with the Government's process for getting their Gypsy and Traveller Plans approved, and may even consider withdrawing them, a senior Conservative councillor has said. A series of public consultations scheduled for next month are to be cancelled.

The Council's draft plan has provoked a series of challenges and questions from the Planning Inspectorate.  It has been suggested that the consultation may have been insufficient, and the approach to measuring and providing for need is in doubt..

Nigel Young, Executive Member for Strategic Planning said;

“We submitted our plan in good faith, believing our Plan to be sound and expecting the Examination of it by the Inspector to result in it being approved. It appears, however, that we were wrong. Despite being further along the process than the overwhelming majority of Councils and proposing more pitches than any other, the Planning Inspector tells us that we haven’t done enough. In view of this, it is with enormous frustration and regret that we have to consider withdrawing our plan.”

The Planning Inspectorate will be writing to the 2,400 people who took part in the consultation to advise them that the Examination hearings that had been scheduled for next month will be cancelled.

If the Plan is to be withdrawn, a decision would be made at full Council in September.

Cllr Young added, “As we reconsider our position and our approach, we can only hope that there is some reflection in Whitehall on whether the existing requirements and inspection model are ever likely to result in plans that can realistically be delivered.”

Central Bedfordshire and all other Councils are required under planning law to develop a plan for providing sites for Gypsies and Travellers.

The Council must balance the needs of Gypsies and Travellers with the representations of the settled community.

Central Bedfordshire have undertaken a long process of development and consultation,and submitted a Plan to provide 131 pitches across the area to the Planning Inspectorate. The Plan had a lot of opposition from places like Barton where a large number of pitches were proposed.